With two reboots and three Peter Parker’s in the past ten years, the Spiderman film franchise has been more troubling than triumphant. Its latest reboot Spiderman: Homecoming is undoubtedly ‘make or break’ for the franchise, which has struggled to recover since the polarizing Spiderman 3 hit our screens in 2007. Who can forget Tobey Maguire’s infamous ladies’ man transformation? I’m sure most of us can’t no matter how desperately we’ve tried. The cancellation of the short-lived 2012 reboot raised further concerns about Spidey’s future but thankfully things have drastically improved this time round. Spiderman: Homecoming is a fresh, funny instalment which promises to restore our faith in the franchise.
The film is set alongside Captain America: Civil War which is where Spiderman made his first appearance with the Avengers squad. At the end of the mission, Tony Stark tells Peter he’s not quite ready to become an Avenger and to return to normal, civilian life until he’s called upon. For 15-year-old Peter, this means a life of school work, decathlon club and the occasional bike theft prevention. Life at home proves all too boring for him, that is until he stumbles across some super advanced, illegal weapons, powered by exotic materials or ‘alien junk’, leftover from the Avengers battle eight years prior. After a bit of snooping, Peter unearths an underworld led by the scarily named, Vulture. Determined to prove himself to Stark, Peter takes it upon himself to take on Vulture and his entire weaponry empire alone but he soon realises he may have bitten off more than he can chew.
Spiderman: Homecoming puts right all the wrongs of past films. Its plot is simple, its tone light-hearted and its characters relatable. A large portion of the film takes place in high school which is where Peter (played by Tom Holland) spends his time trying to juggle school work and what he calls the ‘Stark internship’, an amusing cover up for his crime fighting duties. Holland makes a superb Spiderman. Although his character has a lot on his plate, Holland keeps everything fun and light, never allowing us to forget that Peter is just a kid. That’s why this film is such a vast improvement when compared to its predecessors. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it doesn’t try too hard. It’s just about a kid desperate to prove himself to someone he looks up to. Best of all, the film is hilarious. It’s that awkward teen kind of humour minus all the crude jokes.
As Spiderman is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his interaction with Tony Stark makes perfect sense on paper however Starks’ total screen time is less than ten minutes. The notion of him being Peter’s role model doesn’t feel genuine due to his lack of participation. To be honest they’re ten minutes we could really do without. The racially diverse cast add to the film’s very ordinary feel. Singer/actress Zendaya plays Michelle, a funny, sarcastic friend of Peter’s and part of the decathlon team. Laura Harrier plays Liz, Peter’s high school crush. Peter’s best friend Ned is played by Hawaiian born actor, Tony Batalon. When Ned discovers that his best friend is Spiderman, his relentless questions include, ‘can you summon an army of spiders?’ and ‘can you lay eggs?’ Naturally. As villains go, Vulture isn’t too shabby but Michael Keaton isn’t the right person for the role. He doesn’t quite pull off that bad guy image. He only looks villainous when he’s in that horrifying bird suit his character likes to wear. Think Birdman but with sharp metal in lieu of feathers.
Both Sam Raimi and Marc Webb each directed all the Spiderman films in their respective film series’ so one can only hope that Homecoming director Jon Watts will do the same. As a first time director of a superhero film, or any big budget film for that matter, Watts’ work is impressive. His camerawork is simple yet slick. He slows down the film’s pace when necessary but speeds it up again in an equally skilled manner. He helps maintain that perfect pace. Editors Debbie Berman and Dan Lebental also keep things quick and inject the franchise with some much needed energy.
It’s all the usual stuff but it’s so much better this time round. This latest instalment succeeds where others have failed. So much attention has been paid to character development and it pays off massively. The 175 million dollar budget aside, Spiderman feels like a scaled down version of previous Spidey films and in the best way possible.